Aug 242016
 

Well hello!  Yes, I do still have a blog!  And yes, I have definitely been sewing, as those of you who follow me on Instagram surely know.  I’ve been doing a pretty terrible job of keeping up with photographing what I make, though, and then even when I do a big photo shoot and edit all of my photos, it takes me a month to actually write a post to go with them!  So here’s me like two months ago:mccalls-6891-nani-iro-mountain-view-front-1

This is McCall’s 6891, which is a Palmer/Pletsch pattern.

mccalls-6891-pattern-envelope
Observe the “easy” badge on the envelope and “3-hour perfect fit shirtdress” description on the instructions.  Blatant lies, I tell you.  I made two muslins of this bodice that probably took me 2 hours to cut out and sew alone.  And as an eagle-eyed Instagram follower pointed out when I posted this there, the example is made in plaid!  It would probably take me 3 hours just to plaid match while cutting!  Plus you need to make buttonholes and sew on buttons, which usually takes me two hours all by itself!  I get that Palmer/Pletsch are professionals and can probably do things pretty quickly, and that I’m outrageously slow at things, but I’d like to see someone make this whole thing in 3 hours.

In any event, you can see that I made the sleeveless view A, and the fabric I used is a Nani Iro double gauze called “Mountain Views” that was popular last summer (back when I began planning this dress).  I really love the print, but I must say that it doesn’t behave the way double gauze usually does.  This is because some of the print is done with a thick ink that makes the fabric stiff in some spots.  I don’t really mind this because I find double gauze to be shifty and annoying sometimes, but if you’re looking for that soft, cozy double gauze feeling, this won’t fit the bill.  mccalls-6891-nani-iro-mountain-view-side

The photo below makes it look like I didn’t iron this dress before taking the photos, but I did.  This is just the way the fabric looks, which is also not typical for double gauze.  I can usually get cotton double gauze to press very nicely, but this fabric is a little more crinkly because of that thick ink.  mccalls-6891-nani-iro-mountain-view-back

Conversing with a cat.  Can you see her little floating eyes, ears, and mouth?  I know you can definitely see her cardboard scratcher on the right and the little mat I keep in front of her pet fountain on the left.  I usually move those out of the way when I do photos, but I guess I forgot.  mccalls-6891-nani-iro-mountain-view-side-with-cat

As you can see, I added pockets because pockets.  I just used the pattern pieces from the Deer and Doe Belladone, which is my go-to pocket.  I don’t like side-seam pockets because they tend to sit funny and things fall out of them.  These pockets from the Belladone are ideal.  They always lay flat, and I’ve never had anything fall out of them.  I also substituted a modified version of the Belladone skirt for the circle skirt included in the pattern.  I really hate the way circle skirts look on me for some reason, but I didn’t want to substitute the pleated skirt from McCall’s 6696 because I wanted a more streamlined look.  I’m pleased with this substitution.  I’ve used the Belladone skirt like a grabillion times now with various bodices, and it’s always perfect.mccalls-6891-nani-iro-mountain-view-front-2

Things I like about this dress:

  • The notched collar.  I like the open neckline on me.  I’m very short from bust to neck, so having too much going on in that area can overwhelm me.  I like the open v-shape this collar style provides.
  • The less flared shape.  It’s less likely to blow up in the Chicago wind, which is great, plus it’s just a different silhouette than my other shirtdresses.
  • The fabric, which is from Miss Matatabi.  Despite its stiffness, I love this fabric.  The beauty of the print is almost too much – I kind of want to frame it and hang it on my wall instead of wearing it!  Nani Iro is amazing.  I just finished two more dresses in double gauze prints from her (they do not share the stiffness of this one – they feel like regular double gauze).
  • The fit at the shoulder.  It’s almost perfect.  I always think I have a perfect fit, but then when I take my photos, I see all sorts of pulling.  I can ever so slightly see some ripples, especially in my cat whispering photo above, but I think that’s down to my bias tape insertion.  I bought premade bias tape from Echino from Miss Matatabi as well, and it’s not nearly as stiff as the Wright’s stuff you get at Joann, but it’s not as supple as when I make it myself.  I’m also having this issue lately where I cut the shoulder in too narrow and my bra strap shows.  I began doing this because shoulders are always too wide, but I’m apparently taking it too far lately.  This dress is perfect.  It’s not too wide and I didn’t cut it so narrow that my bra strap shows.  It’s also a great balance between being not gaping at the armhole and not being too tight, which is a problem I’ve caused in my attempts to balance armhole with bust size.  A too-tight armhole is SO uncomfortable!

Things I don’t love about this dress:

  • The lack of a waistband.  I prefer how I look with a more defined waist.  I was into belts for a while, but they’re so shifty.  I feel like I’m always fiddling with them.  Part of this is probably because I like to wear them loose so they don’t sausagify me, and that makes them more likely to rotate on my waist.
  • The side zipper.  No, this dress is not supposed to have a side zipper.  I’ve begun sewing all my shirtdresses together at the center front because no matter how well they fit, as I move throughout the day, I’ll eventually cause them to gape between the buttons.  Several bloggers have discussed putting in additional buttons backwards (if that makes sense – the button faces your body instead of outward, so you can’t see it).  That would be a good solution, but I usually don’t unbutton my shirtdresses when I put them on anyway, so why not just sew the front closed and be done with it?  For this dress, though, it looked very sloppy until it was quite fitted to me, and I was worried I wouldn’t easily be able to put it on without having some kind of closure that I could open up.  I decided to put in an invisible side zipper, but as it turns out, I don’t actually need to use it!  This dress is a little tighter when I put it on, but it’s perfectly put-on-able without unzipping the zipper.  So it’s just unnecessary and the zipper tab irritates my arm sometimes.  I put the zipper in after the dress was constructed, so it’s not the cleanest insertion either.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to rip it out soon.

So the good outweighs the bad, and I’ll definitely be making another version of this pattern.  I love the notched collar, and I think I’ll try to add a waistband even though I think it might look odd in combination with the notched collar.  We shall find out precisely how odd it looks, I suppose!

Feb 192016
 

Any of you who follow me on Instagram know that throughout most of January I was wrestling with my first coat project.  It’s been finished for a few weeks now, and I finally got pictures last week, so get ready for an epic post because I have SO much to say about this project!

I wasn’t really interested in any of the coat patterns I’d seen, so I began looking at RTW coats to find something I could try to copy.  Here’s my inspiration coat, which is from Nordstrom.  This coat cost $150, which is probably almost what I spent to make my coat, so to answer that age-old question about whether sewing saves you money – if you want quality materials, no.  But if you have trouble finding clothes that fit you well, it’s worth every penny.  I always have such a difficult time finding coats that fit well because they have to fit the top and bottom of me, which are two different sizes.  I also always have tons of excess fabric on the back of coats, even on “petite” sized coats.

Screenshot 2016-01-10 14.59.45 Screenshot 2016-01-10 14.59.55

I’ve been seeing coats with this sort of flounce on the bottom for a while, and I always love them.  In addition to the flounce, which was my main attraction to this coat, I also liked the double princess seaming on this coat.  I set to work trying to find a suitable pattern, and it was really difficult.  I resigned myself to drafting the flounce and looked for a pattern with double princess seams.  I found precisely one, McCall’s 6800, and I began the wait for a Joann’s sale.

6800

Initially I thought I’d use the neckline from views C/D because it looked exactly like the neckline on my inspiration coat.  But I eventually decided against it because my neck is super sensitive to scratchy fabrics, so I knew a funnel neck like that would bother me.  I also didn’t like the lapel neckline because I don’t like huge open v-necks like that for winter.  Some of them can button up nicely for warmth, but this looked like the style that wouldn’t button up and still leave the upper part of the lapel laying flat, if that makes sense.  So I decided to put a regular collar on it.  I dug some other coat pattern out of my stash that had a regular collar and just slapped it on there.  Oddly, it fit perfectly and no alterations were necessary.  Another thing I changed was to use Grainline’s tutorial for drafting a lining because this pattern didn’t have separate lining pattern pieces.

It took a lot of trial and error, but I managed to take out all the excess drape below the waist so my coat wouldn’t flare before the flounce.  And then it was more trial and error to draft the flounce.  It’s really just a circle skirt, but it took a lot of testing to find the right level of fullness for it.  I started out with a quarter circle skirt, which was too little.  Then I moved to a half, which was still too little.  Then I tried a full circle, and it was a bit too full.  So I went through slashing and overlapping until I got the right amount of fullness.  When it came time to put everything together, the flounce somehow ended up two inches longer than it needed to be, and I have no idea why.

Before I say more about the coat, let me say that I can’t offer much of a review of the pattern because I changed it so much, and I didn’t use the instructions at all.  I referred to my tailoring book, which is this one: Tailoring: The Classic Guide to Sewing the Perfect Jacket (that’s not an affiliate link because I’m a big nobody and have no affiliates, lol).

I machine tailored the collar with hair canvas, which I guess I didn’t get a picture of until it was on the ham, so you can’t quite see everything, but here it is:

mccalls-6800-collar

I did the machine tailoring a little differently than my book recommended.  Instead of doing all the stitching with the collar laying flat, I stitched the lines on the part of the collar that attaches to the neckline (which you can’t see here), then I draped the collar how it appears above when it’s folded on the ham and pin basted the hair canvas in place, then I did the zig zag stitching you can see in the picture above.  I hoped this method would make the results a little more like hand padstitching which has you shape the fabric as you stitch the canvas on.  I consider this method a great success – how you see the collar shaped above on the ham is pretty much how it naturally wanted to lay; it hardly needed pressing at all.  Everything else that required tailoring (facings and hemlines) was done with the medium weft fusible interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply.

The fabric is this Oscar de la Renta double-faced wool coating from Mood.  I bought three yards, and it look a lot of very careful tetrising to get the coat out of that much fabric.  The flounce was a fabric hog because I wanted it cut on the bias so it would drape properly (spoiler alert: my fabric is much thicker than what I believe was used on the inspiration coat, so it still doesn’t drape quite as well, but I like it anyway).  If I’d been an inch taller, I probably couldn’t have done it with three yards.  I lined it with flannel-backed satin, which I probably wouldn’t do again.  Combined with the very thick double-faced wool, this coat is VERY warm.  Over the course of purchasing materials for this coat, I realized that I am now a person who runs hot.  I used to be cold all the time, but since getting properly treated for my thyroid condition, I run very hot and I’m always overheating.  It’s taken me literally years to realize this – I’ve been wondering for the longest time WHY everyone was all of the sudden keeping indoor temperatures so hot!  I realized this fall that I am no longer cold.  It’s not the temperature; it’s me.

I was forced to do bound buttonholes because my thick textured fabric just wouldn’t get along with my buttonhole foot.  The whole buttonhole-making process was anguish-inducing.  See, I don’t really like bound buttonholes.  I know I’m in the minority here, but I just don’t travel in the sorts of circles where this “couture” finish shows up on RTW.  The only times I’ve ever seen them are in the home sewing world, so to me, they scream Becky Homecky.  I know this is sewing heresy, but there it is.  Throughout the harrowing process, I kept exclaiming “I don’t even like bound buttonholes!”  I wasn’t initially worried about the buttonholes because back in the day I used to make tons of bags with zippered pockets, and the zipper window is basically the same concept with a slightly different construction.  My two sample buttonholes went pretty well.  One was ever so slightly off, but it was hardly noticeable so I went for it.  Of course, the minute I started working on the real buttonholes, everything started going wrong.  I’m glad I decided to start with the lowest buttonhole because it’s wonky AF.  Things got slightly better as I headed up the coat, and overall, I guess they’re okay.  I do wish I could have had regular old buttonholes though.  I thought about trying to do handworked buttonholes, but my wool was a fraying disaster, so I thought that was best avoided.

Speaking of fraying disasters, I was having a difficult time with the little triangle from the bound buttonhole window.  After my traumatic first buttonhole, I decided to take a break and read some more about bound buttonholes to build up my confidence.  One of my vintage sewing books, The Reader’s Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, had a great section on bound buttonholes, and they suggested that for fraying fabrics, instead of cutting a little triangle at either end, you start the point of each triangle in the middle of the window, if that makes sense.  So instead of a tiny triangle like this:

bound-buttonholes-triangle-1

You end up with much bigger triangle like this:

bound-buttonholes-triangle-2

I was so much more comfortable with the big triangles, so I’m really glad I remembered to check out my vintage sewing books for once!

For my bound buttonholes, I actually separated the two sides of the double-faced wool I used for the lips to reduce bulk.  I’m nervous about how well this will hold up because the weave on the right side of the fabric is kind of loose, but I did interface the lips.  The test buttonholes I made were so bulky, though, that I felt I had to do something.  It was fun to separate the two faces, but you can see how loose the weave is:

double-face-separation

Here’s a shot of one of my finished buttonholes and its corresponding button:

mccalls-6800-buttonholes-buttons

Buttons are from Soutache, as usual.  I think I paid $3.50 per button, but it was totally worth it.  I looked at Vogue and Joann and couldn’t find any buttons of the proper size and heft to really match the thick double-faced wool I was using.  I’m super happy with the buttons.  Soutache is the BEST.

 

Final guts shot before the big reveal:

mccalls-6800-guts

I love coat guts!  Ok, one more guts shot because I also love this part of the lining process:

mccalls-6800-attaching-lining

Don’t mind the cardboard scraps from Desdemona’s scratcher all over the floor, and don’t mind my iPad with the Grainline bagging a lining tutorial, which I need every single time I do this.

One final construction note:  I’ve always been irritated by the bit of hand sewing that’s necessary at the end when you bag at jacket lining, so when I stumbled across this tutorial for dealing with that last little bit by machine, I saved it to Pinterest.  The tutorial is based on one from Kathleen Fasanella, which is here.  I found both of them a bit hard to follow because I deal with videos better than photo tutorials, and this one includes a bit of fabric origami to get everything to work.  I had to flip back and forth between the two until I could get them to make sense in my head.  I actually couldn’t quite get it to work for me because of the way I used a hem facing rather than a regular hem (which I had to do because the bottom of the coat is basically a circle skirt), but I did finally understand it and plan to use it from now on.  If I’d planned ahead I could have made it work with the facing, but because I couldn’t understand what the tutorial was asking me to do until I actually got into the middle of it, it was too late for me to have the seam allowance I needed to sew up the lining hole by machine.  I ended up having to do a tiny bit of hand sewing.  Here’s how it turned out, which is similar to how it would look if I’d done it properly:

mccalls-6800-lining-facing

At long last, here it is:

mccalls-6800-front-1

Last week, Ben and I went to the Art Institute because it was free for Chicago (maybe Illinois?) residents and I thought it would be a great chance to get pictures in the gardens on either side of the museum building.  Even though nothing would be blooming, I thought they’d still be a nice backdrop.

Unfortunately, they’re closed in the winter.  Here I am gazing wistfully at them:

mccalls-6800-back

While pitying me for lost photo opportunities, look at the amazing fit of that thing in the back!  No pooling!  No wrinkles!  No swayback issues!  I’ve never had a wool coat without those problems because my back torso length is so much shorter than my front torso length.  On that note, some fitting info: in addition to doing an FBA (I can’t remember how many inches – maybe 2.5?), this pattern had shorten lines for petite sizes and I used those, but that’s pretty much it.  I was shocked at how good the fit was at the shoulders and at the small of my back.  Such a rarity!

As you can see below, there are pockets set into the outer set of front princess seams

mccalls-6800-front-2

Here’s a better view of the collar that I snatched from another pattern.

mccalls-6800-collar-view

I was very skeptical that any of these photos were turning out right, so I made sure that they didn’t by making stupid faces!

Here’s a better view of my hat and cowl, which I also made.

cable-cowl-hermione-hat-closeup

The hat is Hermione’s Cable Eyelet Hat and the cowl is this Burberry Inspired Cowl. They’re made out of 2 skeins of Malabrigo worsted in the hollyhock colorway. I have about 85 yards left and I wish I could get a pair of mittens out of it, but I don’t think it’s enough. I loooooove Malabrigo so much. So gorgeous and so soft. The cowl was my first project with cables, which are super easy. Seriously, so much easier than the lace I was always attempting when I first started knitting.  They required a bit of wrangling because the cables crossed eight stitches, but the technique for cables is not at all hard to wrap your head around.  You can see the cables better in the picture below; they just kind of scrunch up when I’m wearing it (but the color of the yarn in the outdoor pictures is more accurate).

burberry-inspired-cowlThe cowl used a provisional cast-on so it could be knit to a suitable length and then closed up with kitchener stitch, so I also got to learn how to do that. I’m very proud of my first kitchener stitching – I can’t find it anymore because it blends in perfectly!  I had read that kitchener stitch is scary, but maybe it’s not as much for those of us who sew?

The hat also has cables. I really like the hat but I messed the cable and eyelet pattern up somehow. See how the spacing between the cable and eyelet repeats is off?

hermione-cable-eyelet-hat

I only fully realized this after I was already done, and I thought about ripping it back, but I was done with the coat by that time and just wanted to wear it my ensemble together.  I also forgot a few yarn overs in there so I’m missing a few eyelets.  No one who sees me in it knows how it’s supposed to look, though, so it doesn’t really matter!

I usually take my own pictures with my tripod, but since I wanted to take these outside, I asked Ben to help. He wanted to try to capture how cold it was that day, so he told me to blow into my hands like I was trying to keep them warm, but I just ended up laughing!

cable-cowl-hermione-hat-closeup-cold

I’ve been wearing my coat for a few weeks now, and I’ve developed some opinions about it.  I knew it would be heavy, but it is SO heavy that I overheat much more easily and it never wants to stay where I put it.  It’s too long to hang on the back of a chair like you usually would because it drags on the ground, so I usually just fold it in half lengthwise and lay it over the back of the chair.  But half the time, I don’t get the weight distributed evenly and the weight drags it off the chair and it falls on the ground.  Grrr.  Drives me nuts.  I’m also afraid it’s going to break the heavy duty suit hanger I have it hanging on in the closet!  Also, I figured I’d have some pilling with this wool because wool always seems to pill for me, especially in this sort of textured weave, but this is kinda nuts:

fabric-pilling

It’s the part under my arms which gets the most friction, but I guess I hoped for better luck with such an expensive fabric.  I’d be pretty irritated with this fabric if I’d bought a garment at Oscar de la Renta prices!

Overall, I’m really proud of this coat.  It took me a long time because I needed a lot of rest between steps to gather my courage and figure out my plan of action for the next part, haha!  It also took longer than usual because I did a lot of hand sewing to keep things in place.  I hand tacked every single one of those double princess seam allowances (and all the others!) so they would lay flat and smooth.  I didn’t do any hand tailoring because I just don’t get excited by that sort of stuff and I could achieve similar results by using fusibles in some spots and machine tailoring in other spots.  But I did feel like I was doing a ton of hand sewing!  I also decided that I would pick out stitches and re-sew as many times as necessary to get everything sewn perfectly.  I was struck by how Gail did this in her blazer sewalong.  Her instructions, more than once, were to sew, check, and re-sew something until it turns out how you want it.  It’s one of those things that seems obvious – if something didn’t turn out how you wanted it to, redo it!  But for some reason I always thought of having to rip out stitching to redo something as failure.  So I’d end up with stuff I wasn’t happy with in my garments – how silly!  I definitely re-did a few things, but honestly, the wool was really easy to work with, so usually difficult tasks like setting in the sleeves went quite easily.  I didn’t have to re-sew one stitch in that armscye!

I’ll leave you with a little gif I made of a bunch of pictures Ben took of me twirling to try to show how the bottom of the coat flares out.

mccalls-twirling

Feb 042016
 

I’m still alive!  It’s been a while since I posted, but I am indeed still a sewing blogger, despite appearances to the contrary.  I am quite behind in posting things I’ve made, though, so I’m going to combine two more of my beloved shirt dresses.  In both photos I’m wearing sandals because I took these photos sooooo long ago that it was still warm.  We did have a very warm fall, so it wasn’t quite as long ago as it might seem, but it hasn’t been sandal weather here for a while.  Taking blog photos is my least favorite thing about sewing, so you don’t get any pictures me of wearing these two dresses like I’ve been wearing them for the past few months: with boots and a cardigan.

First up is my 6696 kitty cats shirtdress:
cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-front

It’s not without its faults, but I love it so because the kitty cats are so adorable!  The teeny tiny one on the bottom left with its tiny head cocked to the side is my very favorite.

cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-detail

The fabric is canvas from Cotton and Steel.  Canvas is perhaps not the very best choice for a shirtdress, but I actually like the heft of this fabric.  The only problem is that the stiffness of the fabric exacerbates the issue I’ve had with the collar on McCall’s 6696, which is that it’s enormously huge on me.  I keep shaving off height from the neck, collar stand, and collar, and it’s never quite enough.  I wasn’t sure what I should do next, but I had a revelation a few days ago when I read Beth’s post about a silk blouse she made, in which the top plackets don’t meet in the middle; they subtly veer away from each other to form a sort of v-neck.  I think that’s what I need in addition to all the collar-shrinking I’ve been doing.  I never button anything up all the way to the neck, so it won’t cause any problems for the center front to not meet up at the neck.  I’m going to give it a try on my next 6696!

cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-too-big-collar

Side view!  More cats!
cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-side

Back view!  Even more cats!

cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-back

The other problem with this dress is that the sleeves really restrict my range of motion, which is a problem when I’m teaching because I need to write on the board.  Not sure what to do about this one either, but I’m not too worried about it because I don’t have a lot of plans for sleeves on dresses.  I generally like to avoid sleeves because they make it harder to wear cardigans with dresses.  For some reason, I kept envisioning this kitty dress with sleeves, though.  It caused me no end of trouble because I didn’t even have enough fabric to make the dress without sleeves, and then when I ordered more, it was from a different dye lot or something because it was quite noticeably a different color.  I ended up using the different-colored fabric for parts that wouldn’t be visible: the under collar, the placket that isn’t visible, the pockets, the inside yoke, and the waistband facing.  I also had to piece the upper collar to make it work, but you can hardly tell.

cotton-and-steel-hatbox-tiger-stripes-canvas-mccalls-6696-side-stretch

Next up: denim 6696.  (Forgive the wrinkles and sudden changes in brightness; I’d worn the dress all day when I took these photos and I was playing with the settings on my camera and apparently didn’t take a full set of pictures on any one setting.)

mccalls-6696-waxed-denim-front

The idea for this one came from Fiona, who made a lovely denim 6696 a while back.  I initially bought this denim from Emma One Sock for a jean jacket, but when it came it was shinier than I’d envisioned, even though it was called “waxed” denim and I knew it would be somewhat shiny.  It just didn’t seem right for the kind of jean jacket I wanted, but when I saw Fiona’s dress, this denim suddenly seemed perfect for a dress.  It’s lighter than regular denim and has slightly better drape.  It seems like tons of people have made things in denim with red topstitching, so I hopped on that bandwagon as well, and I love it.  I haven’t worn much red in recent years, mostly because red and black used to be my uniform so it consequently seems a little boring these days.  But I’ve enjoyed wearing red again, and I especially like how this dress looks with a red cardigan I bought expressly for the purpose of wearing with this dress, and which I’ve helpfully not photographed for you.  Trust me when I say that there’s a reason I wore red to death a few years ago, though: it goes well with my dark hair!

mccalls-6696-waxed-denim-back

As my love for the Belladone suggests, I love a good back cutout.  The idea for this one came from Pinterest, where someone had pinned a vintage dress from Etsy.  The dress has long since sold, but here’s the inspiration picture:

Screenshot 2016-01-24 19.37.47

Here’s a side view for completion’s sake.  You can see in these various photos how the denim is dark but has a sheen to it; the color of the denim in the first picture is true.  It looks lighter in the second two photos, which isn’t really what it looks like in real life, but it does have a sheen that I think is more apparent in the lighter photos.  You can also see that I used a different kind of pocket on this one.  I thought side-seam pockets in this denim would be too bulky, so I used the pocket pattern from the Belladone dress.  That pattern is the gift that keeps on giving, I’m telling you.  mccalls-6696-waxed-denim-side

This denim dress actually drove me nuts during construction; I couldn’t get the bodice to match up with the waistband correctly, and it’s actually off center.  If you look closely, you can see that it’s a little bigger on the left side (my left/your right) than it is on the right.  Whatever.  At least I finished it, and I really like it!  And it gets a lot of compliments, so I think the pretty red topstitching and buttons are distracting enough for people to not notice.

With those two dresses out of the way, I’m caught up on things I’ve photographed.  I have some things that need to get photographed, and I’ve finished up my epic winter coat, which will call for its own epic photo session with my new camera whenever it next snows.  Yes, readers, it’s true: I plan to go outside for photos.  I also have a super boring year-in-review post that I’ll post soon, but it won’t be very interesting because it will talk about a bunch of stuff I made but never photographed.  :/

 

 

Dec 222015
 

Apparently I started the draft of this post on October 4th.  Yikes.  The semester that just ended nearly killed me.  I’ve never worked so tirelessly in my life, and I feel like I’m never going to recover.  I read over 2000 pages of student writing and had to comment on most of it, so it wasn’t like I was skimming.  I had 125 students, the most I’ve ever had, and I had three different classes to prep.  I hardly know what to do with all my free time over the winter break!  In theory, I want to sew, but I’m still so exhausted that I haven’t done much since we got back from visiting my mom in Florida a week ago.

I didn’t really get much sewn this semester.  The dress I’m going to talk about today was sewn before the semester started and was my first day of class dress.  I always like to make a new dress for the first day of class because I’m silly.  To my students, any dress I wear will be new, but it makes me happy to have a new-to-me dress!  During the regular semester, I think the only two things I actually finished were a Minoru coat and a corduroy 6696, and the 6696 isn’t quite finished.  It needs sleeves, but I’ve worn it with a sweater because I have a mustard sweater that I think looks awesome with the teal corduroy I chose, plus I was determined to wear my fall corduroy dress in the fall!

simplicity-1803-front

Anyway this is Simplicity 1803, which is a Project Runway pattern with a bunch of different bodice options.  It only has one skirt option, though, which is a gathered skirt.  I’m not the hugest fan of a gathered skirt on me, especially in thicker fabrics like the one I used, so I just used my trusty Belladone skirt, sans pockets.  I regret that choice and wish I’d made it avec pockets, but it’s too late now.  The fabric is barkcloth from Miss Matatabi, and I LOVE it.  I’ve since procured some Jessica Jones Time Warp barkcloth, and it has a very different feel, but I think I’ll like it too.  The barkcloth is nubby and soft, and it’s super comfy to wear.  I’ve worn it with sweaters and tights into the winter, but these photos were taken in August!

simplicity-1803-side

As you can see in the photo above, I clearly need to add a bit of length to the front bodice.  I didn’t do an FBA for the bodice because it was fine width-wise, but I obviously needed the extra length of an FBA.

simplicity-1803-back

This dress came out a little big, but as I’ve mentioned several times, I’m a fan of slightly big dresses because they’re super comfy.  In the above picture, you can see that I’ve used the back bodice from the Deer and Doe Belladone, which I modified to not have the cutout.  The back bodice for this pattern has a really low scoop, which I don’t like at all on me.

Below you can see the detail of the bodice a bit more clearly.  I wanted to take a closer shot to show the little split in the neck, but my face kept looking so stupid in every picture that I finally just turned my head.  I was probably super stressed that day about teaching stuff.  :/

simplicity-1803-front-closeup

That’s it for today!  I have another dress that I took photos of but haven’t had time to blog, but those photos are on a computer that had the RAM go bad, so I’m waiting on replacement RAM so I can upload those photos.  Everything is backed up, but the photos are unfortunately not backed up to any of my various cloud backups, so I have to wait to get them off my Time Machine hard drive.  Sigh.  I’m s-l-o-w-l-y working on a winter coat right now, but it doesn’t really matter that it’s taking me so long because we’ve only had a few days where I would have needed it.  I’ve been wearing my trusty Minoru tons and subbing in my puffy coat when it gets too cold.  I do want to get the winter coat done over the winter break, though, so hopefully I’ll be able to post about it soon.

Sep 292015
 

I just realized that it’s technically no longer summer, so I should probably post this dress before it gets too ridiculous.  A few months ago, I saw a woman on the train with a shoulder-tie blouse and all of a sudden a desperate need for a shoulder-tie garment hit me.  I mostly wear dresses, though, so I cooked up a scheme to make a dress with shoulder ties.  I recalled that I’d seen a shoulder-tie top on Handmade by Heather B‘s blog, so I scrolled madly through her archive until I found what I was looking for, which turned out to be the Maison Fleur Summer Blouse.  I decided to pair it with my trusty Belladone skirt, and this is the result.
maison-fleur-summer-blouse-belladone-ellen-baker-cranes-front

I have this problem sometimes where I think I’m smiling but I’m actually grimacing horrifically.  I’m guessing that’s why people on the street don’t always smile back at me.  Anyway, I was having one of those days when I was trying to take these pictures, and it was really irritating me.  The more irritated I got, the less I was able to fake a smile.  So I just turned my head instead of trying to fight it.

Back to business:  Maison Fleur Summer Blouse.  Instead of actually sewing the blouse and attaching the Belladone skirt to it, I decided I’d just trace a version of the Belladone bodice with the neckline and tie extensions of the Summer Blouse.  I wanted this dress quick because summer was already waning, and I didn’t want to waste time fitting a whole new pattern.  I do believe it worked out well.

maison-fleur-summer-blouse-belladone-ellen-baker-cranes-side

The fabric is from Miss Matatabi’s Etsy store, which I don’t recommend you visit.  It’s a very dangerous place.  I ordered some of the gorgeous Nani Iro Mountains fabric that was popping up everywhere this summer and decided to follow Miss Matatabi on Instagram.  A few days after my fabric arrived, she posted that some fabrics were on sale, and wouldn’t you know that one of them was a fabric I had agonized over adding to my order.  So I placed another order for that fabric, and while floating around the Etsy store I spied this Ellen Baker cranes fabric and couldn’t resist it.  Nor could I resist another fabric from the same Ellen Baker line.  So you can see how I would sternly warn you against perusing Miss Matatabi’s shop.

maison-fleur-summer-blouse-belladone-ellen-baker-cranes-back

LOOK AT THAT PATTERN MATCHING.  I’m not a pattern matcher, folks.  I’m the sort who buys the absolute minimum amount of fabric necessary because I hate waste, and that sort of philosophy doesn’t really lend itself to pattern matching.  But I somehow managed to buy more than I needed with this fabric, and how many metallic paper crane print items does one girl need?  So I pattern matched those suckers, and I’m proud to say that when I put my mind to it, I am capable of matching a pattern.  Note that I did not put my mind to matching the waistband, therefore it does not match.  And I’m not just saying that; I really didn’t want the waistband to match.  I wanted it to be a little obvious that there was a waistband there to add some semblance of waist definition.  I find that a regular, all-over print is a great way to camouflage a body’s curves.  If that’s what you want, perfect.  That is not what I want at my waist.  My search for a coordinating solid was a failure, so I had to work with what was available, thus the not-matching waistband.

This fabric is a linen/cotton blend and it’s pretty heavy.  This made the ties quite difficult to manage; I had to get Ben to help me tie them.  I thought of trying to do a single knot and sewing it in place, but I’d like to wear this dress in the winter with a cardigan, and I don’t want strange lumps at my shoulders.  I’m hoping I can devise a plan to untie the knots and make some surreptitious fasteners of some kind so I can wear a cardigan without looking like I have a lumpy mutation at my shoulders.

maison-fleur-summer-blouse-belladone-ellen-baker-cranes-front-closeup

I bought a crane necklace this summer, but as I told everyone who complimented me on this dress, I don’t want to wear them together lest I look like I have a crane fetish.  And of course, telling everyone, including the internet, this information makes me seem like I do indeed have a crane fetish but am anxious about it.

OMG, you guys.  I wanted to post this earlier, but I’ve just finished an intensive week of commenting on 88 papers because I planned poorly and had students from my composition classes at both schools turn in papers on the same day.  I never want to comment on another paper again.  Except I just got a batch of papers to grade last night.  *sob*

Sep 132015
 

I’m doubling up again in hopes of getting all my summer makes blogged before it gets too cold.  It’s been flipping back and forth between chilly and blazing hot here, so I might be safe to keep talking about and wearing summer clothes a little longer!

In that spirit of continued summer, here’s the final dress from the seven-dress frenzy of June 2015.  As I’ve been banging on about all summer, I dropped everything else in my life and made seven dresses in like two weeks prior to going to Kansas City to score essays for a week.  I regret nothing.  I’ve worn all of those dresses tons this summer, and they were a good investment of time.

This one is made of Cotton and Steel double gauze, and you can see right away below that I didn’t adequately prepare for the loose-woven nature of double gauze: I should have interfaced the waistband.  I didn’t realize this until the whole dress was together, though, and I abhor seam-ripping serger stitching, so I just have a kind of sloppy dress.  I’m going to just plan to interface all my Belladone waistbands from now on.  Especially since the esteemed McCall’s 6696 asks you to interface the waistband, and those waistbands always come out looking sharp.

cotton-and-steel-double-gauze-belladone-front

I’m still getting used to my camera settings, so sorry about the darkness.  I’ll get it figured out someday!  Using the regular settings was resulting in super blown-out photos, though, so darkness it is.  They don’t look quite this dark on the camera screen, so I’m going to have to start bumping the f-stop down a few numbers past what looks good on the camera screen.

cotton-and-steel-double-gauze-belladone-side

I never put a hook and eye in this dress, which is quite obvious in the photo below.  I hate putting in hooks and eyes, so I often just don’t do it, but the dark color of this dress against my skin makes my laziness a bit too in-your-face.  But look at that waistband matching!  I used a contrast fabric for the waistband to give myself a little waist definition, which is always welcome in my household.  It’s a coordinating double gauze that matches the little asterisks in the print.  I really like the effect and I wish I could find coordinating solids like this more easily.

cotton-and-steel-double-gauze-belladone-back

I also used the solid double gauze to make my own bias tape, which I hardly ever do, but I thought it would be senseless to use a soft and cozy fabric like double gauze and then use stiff pre-made bias tape on it.  I also thought I’d be a genius and handstitch my bias binding down so the dress would have a clean finish from the outside.  But I was too lazy and made my stitches too far apart, so what you see below is what my horrified eyes saw the first time this came out of the washer.  I still haven’t fixed it even though I’ve worn the dress again – oops!  It’s not causing major problems yet, but I clearly need to fix it before the double-gauze binding shreds and I need to replace it entirely.  I’ll probably just machine stitch it this time to avoid having this problem again.

cotton-and-steel-double-gauze-belladone-binding

Next up is another Belladone (which, if you couldn’t already tell, is one of my pattern true loves alongside McCall’s 6696).  But this time, it’s a knit!  As I mentioned a few posts ago, I made a knit Belladone a couple years back but the fabric pilled and looked awful right away.  I’d wanted to make another one ever since, and decided against making a Morris blazer with this fabric in favor of making my longed-for knit Belladone.  I LOVE this dress, so I’m glad I went for it.

There is one issue, which you can see below in the way the stripes distort at the shoulder – the fabric in that area has some minor wrinkles.  For one thing, I should have narrowed the shoulders more.  The second thing is that I made my armhole binding slightly too short for this knit, which is very stable.  I read somewhere that 85% of the opening is a good length for knit bindings, so that’s what I did.  That worked out perfectly for the neckline, which is much more prone to gaping or standing away from the body, but it’s a bit too tight for the armholes.  I’d kind of like to cut the shoulders in a little bit and redo the binding, but I’m also kind of lazy.  Plus sweater season is almost here, so this will be covered most of the time anyway.

striped-knit-deer-and-doe-belladone-front-adjusted-fstop

This is a really stable ponte, so I didn’t size down even though this is a knit.  I thought I might have to take it in, but it turned out fine.  This is definitely a secret pajamas dress, and it makes me want to make a thousand more.  You’ll notice that I kept all the darts, even though this is a knit.  This may seem reasonable for this dress because it’s made of a pretty stable ponte, but I’m actually planning on making all my knit tops with darts from now on.  I get a much better fit, and I’ve noticed that a lot of knit RTW has darts or princess seams.  I have a few knit dresses from Target and LOFT with darts and one with princess seams, and they look perfectly fine and fit well.  I always wanted to avoid darts in knit garments because I thought they would look Becky Homecky, but an ill-fitting garment looks much worse than a well-fitting darted one, and if it’s good enough for Target and LOFT, it’s good enough for me.

As you can see below, my stripes got really wonky around the waistband and I’m not sure why.  I cut the waistband pieces so they’d match, but something went awry.  My skirt side seams are still fairly matched because I sacrificed waistband matching to get them to look right.  I figured my arms would cover the side seam at the waist a lot of the time, but the skirt side seams will always be visible.

striped-knit-deer-and-doe-belladone-side

Back of striped dress is striped just like the front:  truth in advertising.  I accidentally made a cutting mistake right away, so I had to cut my back skirt pieces separately to conserve fabric even though they should have been cut on the fold because there’s no zipper in this dress.  I think I did a pretty decent job of lining up the stripes.  I can see where the seam is, but I think it’s hidden pretty well for those not in the know.

striped-knit-deer-and-doe-belladone-back

And here’s my lovely binding, which I painstakingly folded right on the stripe so it could be solid black.  You can also see my rear skirt seam.  Oh, and my coverstitching.  I almost used the sewing machine instead of the coverstitch because this knit is so stable that it really wouldn’t matter.  But I went for it because I paid money to own a coverstitch machine, so I should probably use it.

striped-knit-deer-and-doe-belladone-binding

And there you have it:  two Belladones. That brings my Belladone count up to six, I believe, but a couple of them are two years old and too small to wear.  McCall’s 6696 is currently beating it at seven, but it’s close.  I also have a Belladone frankenpattern that I finished a couple of weeks ago, so if we count it, I think my 6696 and Belladone counts might be neck and neck.  Plus I’ve used the Belladone skirt on tons of dresses because it’s my perfect dress skirt: slightly a-line, darted in the back, and front pleats for extra belly room without adding bulk.

When I first started sewing, I never wanted to repeat patterns because I thought it would be dumb to have a closet full of the same clothes in different colors/prints.  I’ve obviously changed my tune on that one, and it’s a good thing because if it weren’t for repeat patterns that don’t require several rounds of muslining, I wouldn’t have nearly as many clothes!

Sep 052015
 

I’m so behind in blogging dresses that I’m going to have to start doubling up!  This should not be difficult because this year is the year of repeat patterns – especially McCall’s 6696.  Unsurprisingly, I have two versions of McCall’s 6696 to show you today, both made in the seven-dress frenzy of summer ’15.  One is made out of Liberty tana lawn, and the other is made out of my beloved Art Gallery voile.

First up, my third version of McCall’s 6696, made out of Liberty lawn.  This one is a little different.  To make it seem like I’m not just sewing the same exact dress over and over again, I modified this one to only button down halfway, like Mary did here.  The skirt and waistband are solid in front.

My first set of photos for this dress were so washed out!  It was really frustrating.  I tried closing the blinds in the room where I was taking them, but it didn’t help at all.  I gave up and figured I’d just apologize when I blogged this dress.

liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-front

But then I did a big photo session for some newer dresses and was having the same problem.  This time, I was taking the pictures pretty late in the day and not in direct sunlight, so I decided it might be a good time to actually use some of the manual settings on my camera so I’d have a fighting chance of getting decent pictures.  I increased the f-stop number to make the pictures look less washed out, and I was surprised how much more like myself I looked!  I always look so washed out in the photographs and like my skin glows white, but it really doesn’t.  I re-took the pictures for this dress, and it’s so much better.  Now I look more like me and you can see the print on this beautiful Liberty fabric much better!

I also got new glasses in between the first photo and the second.  They’re apparently not as fabulous at reducing glare as my old glasses

liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-front

Side view!  I really don’t understand camera settings, which is why the photo below is partially blurry.  I thought increasing the f-stop number would decrease the shutter speed, which is what would let less light through the lens, but that is apparently wrong because the shutter was noticeably slower and I kept moving before it was done.  I didn’t notice all the blurry spots until I uploaded the pictures, so you’ll have to bear with me as I figure out what a camera is and how to use it!

liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-side

More blurriness with a back view.
liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-back

More buttons from the lovely Soutache.  These are the same buttons I used on my Liberty Alder, just in a different color.  I love them, but if there’s any strain at all on the buttons, they want to slide through the buttonhole and pop open!  I never need to unbutton these buttons to put the dress on, so I just handstitched the two plackets together.liberty-mary-jean-c-mccalls-6696-detail

Next up, my Art Gallery voile 6696.  This one buttons all the way down, but I used a gathered skirt instead of the pleated skirt, again, to give some minimal sense of variety to these dresses.  Now that I’ve sewn up and worn my two pieces of Liberty fabric quite a bit, I feel like it’s definitely much better than quilting cotton, but not as good as these Art Gallery voiles.  They are smoother and come out of the washer (if I’m hanging them to dry) or the dryer (if I don’t have hanging space or time to let them hang) wrinkle-free, while my Liberties always get all crinkly in certain spots and it’s nearly impossible to iron the crinkles out.

flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-frontThis particular print is designed by Katarina Roccella and it’s called Flowered Engrams in Ornate.  I LOVE it so much!  I think it’s my favorite out of all the Art Gallery voiles I got this summer.  I’ve wanted a larger scale floral dress for a while, but I have trouble finding prints that don’t look grandmotherly to me.  I love the colors in this one, and as you’ll see better below, the flowers have a blocky, pixelated look to them, which I think makes the print look much more modern than lots of other large-scale florals.flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-sideA back view for journalistic integrity.  I had no idea that I’d apparently cut my waistband with the flowers almost-but-not-quite matching the bodice.  I didn’t even realize it until I saw this picture!  It looks sort of strange, which makes me think a belt would be a good idea for this dress.  I’ve already worn it like a billion times without one, though, so whoops!flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-backHere you can see the print a bit better, along with my square buttons, which delight me because they echo the pixelated nature of the print.  They’re nothing fancy, just from Joann.  Every time I’m looking for a teal button, these are the closest thing they have at Joann, and they never match.  I was excited that they actually matched this dress since they’re perfect for it!flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-button-detail-closeupI finally remembered to use a tip from this Grainline tutorial for getting flat bias binding, which is understitching.  It works pretty well!  I used premade bias binding because I hate making my own, and that makes it a little more difficult to get a perfect finish because it’s so stiff, but I’ve definitely been getting the best finishes I’ve ever had now that I’m understitching.

flowered-engrams-voile-mccalls-6696-binding

That’s it for today!  I still have six dresses I’ve made that I have yet to blog, and they’re all pretty much summer dresses, so I have to get my act together!  I’ve just been so busy lately – probably the busiest I’ve ever been in my life.  I’ve been a TA for the past six years at UIC, where I’m doing my Ph.D.  I’m still teaching two classes there this semester , but I’m also teaching two classes at another school.  Remember my interview suit?  Well, I didn’t get that job, which was at a community college, and I heard through the grapevine of a friend who works there that it was, at least in part, because I didn’t have any community college teaching experience.  So I decided to teach part time at a community college to get some experience.  It’s difficult to get a full time job, but it’s ridiculously easy to get a part time job.  My interview for the part-time place was barely an interview, and I was told I had the job like 20 minutes into it.  So they hired me to teach two composition classes, and I discovered when I looked up my rosters that I’d have 32 students in each one.  Our course limit for composition at UIC is 24, and most of us feel like that’s too many.  32?!  I was horrified.  And I continue to be horrified every time I have to spend hours upon hours reading their homework or commenting on their papers.  Plus I have more than the normal number of students at UIC for convoluted reasons having to do with the fact that one of my classes this semester isn’t a comp class.  So in total I have somewhere between 120-130 students (some of them have a lot of absences already and might end up dropping), which is the most I’ve ever had, even though I taught four classes one semester when I was an adjunct in between my MA and Ph.D.  I only had 85 that semester.  I’m behind in everything in my life except teaching, and I feel like I’m always either prepping for class, reading homework, commenting on papers, or actually traveling to or being at one of the two schools.  This semester may actually kill me.  I’m hoping to take some time over this long Labor Day weekend to get ahead a bit on class prep, plus sew a little bit.  Plus I need to finish some last revisions on an article I’m sending to a journal.  There’s definitely no time for relaxing this weekend, which is what this holiday is all about!  Blergh.

Aug 132015
 

Here’s yet another Alder – number five to be precise!  It’s made of yet another Art Gallery voile, this one from Leah Duncan’s Gramercy line.  The print is called City Lights in Night.  I’d had my eye on it for a while and was delighted to discover that it could fit in with my plan to take home all the dark, printed voiles this summer.  I do love the print, but the hand of this voile is much different than the two other Art Gallery voiles I have.  It seems stiffer and stickier.  I’m guessing it’s the fault of the black dye, which is known to wreak havoc.  So if I’ve inspired you to buy the whole catalog of dark printed Art Gallery voiles, be aware that this one is not quite as magical as the others.  It’s still light and breezy and good for keeping as cool as possible in summer, but it’s not the wondrous fabric that led me on my dark printed voile quest.leah-duncan-gramercy-city-lights-night-grainline-alder-front

I really don’t have much to say about this dress that I didn’t say in my post about my Liberty Alder.  Like that dress, I also straightened the hem on this dress instead of using the shirttail-style hem of the pattern.  The only thing I have to say about this one that I didn’t say about the other is that the armhole on this one is a bit higher than my other Alders, thus making it a bit uncomfortable.  This happened because I forgot to use a 1/2″ seam allowance on the shoulder seams and instead used a 5/8″ allowance.  You wouldn’t think that 1/8″ would make much of a difference, but it really does!  The Liberty Alder armholes are high, but not as uncomfortably so as these.

leah-duncan-gramercy-city-lights-night-grainline-alder-side

I mentioned in my post about the Liberty Alder that I wanted to shorten the back bodice for future versions.  Since I made this one at the same time as that one, I didn’t make that change.  I’ll have to remember when I make it again, and I definitely will.  I’m thinking I might need a long-sleeved version for the fall.

leah-duncan-gramercy-city-lights-night-grainline-alder-back

These buttons are not very thrilling, sorry!  They’re just from Joann’s.  I had such a hard time deciding on buttons, though.  I thought maybe yellow, but I couldn’t find a yellow I liked.  Blue was my second choice, but these buttons only match the blue of the dress in certain lights/at certain angles.  So not the best option, but in my seven dress making frenzy, I didn’t have time for a trip to Soutache, which is further from me than Joann’s and has less convenient hours.
leah-duncan-gramercy-city-lights-night-grainline-alder-button-detail

And that’s the tale of dress four of seven.  I have three more to show you (basic math, ya’ll), then I can move on to the two dresses I’ve made since.  My output has slowed down significantly since the seven dress making frenzy, perhaps understandably so.  In addition to being a little sewed-out, I’ve also been working on a really annoying dress that doesn’t inspire me to sit down at the sewing machine.  I hope it will turn out to be great dress, but the sewing of it is driving me nuts.  I forgot one of the lessons I learned when I sewed more in the month of January than I had all last year: if I’m not happy sewing something, give it a break and move on to something else.  I have this resistance to changing the thread in my machine and serger for some reason.  Sewing machines are easy to thread and I have an air-threaded serger, so there’s really no excuse.  I told myself in January that I just needed to rethread my machines if it meant I got to work on something more exciting, and I need to remember that so I don’t get hung up on one annoying dress!

 

Aug 052015
 

Last year I made a summer Sureau out of some gorgeous Cloud 9 organic voile, but I only wore it a couple of times.  I thought voile would be the perfect thing for a summer dress, but the print I bought was very light in color, so I had to line it.  The lining made the dress unbearable in the heat, so I never really wanted to wear the dress.  I believe I’ve previously mentioned that this summer, I discovered that dark printed voiles are magical summer fabrics.  Light enough in weight to keep you cool and dark enough in color to not need lined.  When I bought a pile of dark printed voiles a few months ago, I earmarked one of them for a new summer Sureau, and it is much better than last year’s version!

pat-bravo-etno-shore-remains-deer-and-doe-sureau-front

I made this one out of a Pat Bravo printed voile from Art Gallery.  It’s from the Etno line and it’s called Shore Remains in Algae.  In the little images online stores use to sell this fabric, the background looks sort of brown or grey, but it’s actually a dark navy blue that looks pretty much black.  I never would have ordered it if I thought it had a brownish greyish background, but I saw photos of the actual fabric on Hawthorne Threads so I knew I liked the way it actually looked.

pat-bravo-etno-shore-remains-deer-and-doe-sureau-back

This was probably my least favorite of all the voiles when I bought them, but the dress has gotten a ton of compliments and I like the color more than I thought I would, so it’s moved up in the rankings.

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As with my latest versions of McCall’s 6696, I very unscientifically added a little extra at the side seams to accommodate weight gain.  The dress ended up a little bigger than necessary, but it’s supremely comfortable, so I left it as is.  I am so loving my loose breezy dresses this summer!

pat-bravo-etno-shore-remains-deer-and-doe-sureau-button-detailThe buttons are just cheapies from Joann’s I had lying around.  They’re a sort of iridescent shell, but it’s hard to tell in the picture.  I looked everywhere for buttons that would match the light blue triangles in the print, but it turned out to be a really difficult color to match.  I settled for sort of matching the cream flower petals.

I’m really glad I redeemed the concept of the summer Sureau with a a better fabric choice!  I really love the Sureau – I think the neckline is flattering, and I love that the gathering at the bust means fewer darts.  The skirt also seems to have the perfect amount of gathering – not so much that it’s poufy and just enough that the skirt looks appropriately gathered.

I still have a few of my summer dresses to post, but I’ve been sewing in the meantime.  I’ve been working on another 6696 (my sixth!) that’s trying to kill me, and I’m also making a knit Belladone.  I made one before but never got around to posting it; here’s a quick picture I took back when I made it:

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I loved that dress but the knit was pretty crappy and got pills all over it right away.

I’ve also been working on a pile of muslins.  Since it worked out so well to cut a bunch of dresses out at once and sew them all up, I decided I’d give a try to cutting a bunch of muslins at once.  I posted a picture of them to Instagram, though it’s hard to see which patterns they are:

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I’ve got Butterick 6168, McCall’s 6503, McCall’s 6891, Simplicity 1803, and Simplicity 1873.  I’ve got the fit sorted on the two Simplicities and McCall’s 6891, but McCall’s 6503 is giving me major fit issues, ugh.  Butterick 6168 doesn’t have a side bust dart because it has under bust pleats.  But I still need a side dart, so I’m trying to figure out if I should add one or if I should somehow figure out how to rotate it into the pleats.  But I hope to finish up my knit Belladone and my 6696 soon so I can get started on sewing a few of these up as final summer patterns.  It might seem late to be sewing summer dresses, but it will be pretty hot through September, and I’ll need lots of clothes because I’m going to be teaching five days a week instead of three this fall. Wish me luck with teaching and sewing for teaching!

Jul 132015
 

As I mentioned in my last post, I made seven dresses in like two weeks.  Today I’m going to talk about the second dress, or what is chronologically the first dress I completed.  This one is my second version of McCall’s 6696.  When I made my wearable muslin, I knew I wanted to make two more versions of this dress; one is the one below, out of Art Gallery voile, and the second is a recently completed version with sleeves made from Cotton and Steel tiger print canvas (you can sort of see it behind me in the photos below).  I began this dress in late April at a Chicago-area sewing event, but then I didn’t get to work on it again for a while because I was busy sewing nine gazillion things for my niece.

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I’ve gained some weight since my wearable muslin, so I very unscientifically added some extra fabric to all the seam allowances below the bust (my bust size has remained the same).  The dress turned out a bit too big, but I decided I actually liked it that way.  It was very breezy and perfect for summer weather.  The first day I wore it I had several revelations:  1.  dresses that are slightly too big are pretty comfy, so maybe I should cool it on the fitting quests; 2.  Art Gallery voile is amazingly soft and cool in the heat; 3.  allover printed voile on a dark base is the perfect summer fabric because it makes it possible to not need a lining or slip with this very lightweight fabric.  I took action on these revelations by buying a pile of allover printed voiles on dark bases and proceeding to sew them up into breezy summer dresses (see:  seven dresses in a few weeks).  Unfortunately the universe has not shared in my awe at these revelations and has not sent me much summery weather in which to enjoy my new breezy dresses.  I’ve been wearing cardigans with them most days.

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This particular voile is from Katarina Roccella’s Indelible line, and the color is Floret Stains in Mulberry.  I love it so much!  I seem to have a lot of fabrics in my stash in prints that I only sort of like, so I’ve been sewing up new prints almost immediately after I get them.  I’ve been trying to buy with a plan in mind rather than stashing in mind, which I guess is what I was doing for a while after I began sewing.  I have a few silks that I’m not sure I’ll ever sew up, so perhaps I should try to get rid of them somehow.  I wish my stash was smaller, but since I can’t seem to stop buying fabric, I’m at least trying to sew up more of it when I get it.

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I tried a new technique on the collar, and it turned out to be a fail.  I usually use the ubiquitous method from Four Square Walls, but I read about a different collar method from Beth at Sunny Gal Studio that is supposed to solve the problem of the bulky seam allowance at the bottom of the collar stand.  I hate dealing with that seam allowance, so this seemed like a good method to try, but something about it just didn’t work with my brain.  I couldn’t get the curve of the collar stand or the part of the button band that meets the collar stand to look good no matter what I did.  What you see below is the best I could muster, so I’ve gone back to Andrea’s trusty method.  I don’t know why my topstitching doesn’t meet up in the photo below; I was probably fatigued and just gave up, but I should probably go back and fix that.

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My buttons are vintage glass from Soutache in Chicago, which has quickly become my favorite place for buttons after my first visit this past spring. The buttons are more expensive than those at Joann’s, but they’re so worth it for the beauty and selection.  I love these buttons, which pick up on the coral flowers in the print.

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As you can see in the photo below, I remembered the pockets on this version of the dress!  I forgot them on the wearable muslin and I vowed to remember them for future versions.  I never used to like pockets because they add bulk in a place where I’d prefer not to have it, but I’ve become a fan because they are a great place to put your hands when you’re feeling awkward, which is 90% of the time for me.  I don’t like to carry things in dress pockets because they tend to distort the way dresses hang, but it does come in handy to have a pocket to throw something into when you need your hands free.  Last weekend we had a picnic for the fourth of July and it was great to have a place to put my phone and keys while I ran in and out of our apartment carrying food and everything else we needed.

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You can see some pulling above the bust and I’ve tried to fix that in later versions but I’m not sure I succeeded.  I think it’s caused by excess fabric above the bust due to me not doing an FBA.  For subsequent versions I muslined a new bodice using a smaller size and doing an FBA, and it turned out much worse, which is generally what happens when I do FBAs.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but FBAs seem to hate me.  I know I said I’d cool it on the fitting quests, but I would like to take care of that issue, so I’ll keep trying!